With the springtime sun shining brightly there was a relaxed feeling in Copnor on Saturday. The smell of freshly mowed grass lingered in an air filled with the sound of children playing in back-gardens whilst no one strolling along seemed in any particular hurry.
Stepping through the turnstile into Moneyfields ground the atmosphere was no different. With some forty minutes before kick off the Moneyfields players, out training on the pitch, appeared in good spirits, smiling and joking, as they were being put through their paces by their coaches – including, I spotted, Mick Catlin who enjoyed much recent success at Gosport. I think you can tell a lot about a team from its warm up routine. Simply pinging shots at goal like a Sunday League side always seems to me to suggest a sloppy indiscipline, whereas proper drills – like the ones Money’s were doing – speak more of an organised and disciplined side.
A win would go a long way to securing the Wessex League title for Moneyfields and would assure them of promotion to the Southern League, but if there were any nerves there were no real outward signs of them. Perhaps this was partly because opponents Whitchurch United sat 19 places below Money’s in 20th place – with eight wins out of 39 – though sitting just four points above the relegation spot Whitchurch were among the sides who still had something to play for [edit – in actual fact 3 are going down this season so Whitchurch are indeed sat in the relegation zone].
As it turns out Moneyfields confidence was well placed and a victory for the home side never looked in doubt. Money’s opened the scoring around five minutes into the game when a ball over the top from midfield was slotted past the Whitchurch goalkeeper and the lead was further extended when the Money’s number 8, James Guthrie, did well to put a low ball into the box, which was finished off by a colleague.
After their second goal Money’s really came to life hitting the woodwork twice, before netting their third. Having been put through the attacker seemed to put away at an almost leisurely pace which must have annoyed the Whitchurch bench who exchanged words with their ‘keeper. “They could have had five by now” the ‘keeper was heard to say in reply. In fairness he was correct as he had at that point, made two reasonable saves – including one very good stop with an outstretched foot. The person next to me though pointed out that if you included the two occasions the woodwork was rattled Money’s could well have been looking at seven. I predicted a rout, another nearby spectator – a Money’s regular – wasn’t so sure “sometimes the other side manage to come back” she told me….
Early in the second half I was beginning to think they may have been right. The Money’s attack appeared to have lost much of its first-half potency and as a result the Money’s players themselves were beginning show signs of frustration. Whitchurch began to enjoy their best spell of the game, testing the Money’s defence who were called on to charge down several attempts on goal.
Money’s though won a free kick right on the edge of the box as the result of a trip. I did have to wonder whether the Money’s player may have been looking for that outcome, but if they were then it was a good call; the free-kick was sent in with a nice curl and met with an onrushing Money’s head to make it 4-0.
Whitchurch were showing clear signs of dissatisfaction with their collectuive performance “If we held the line he would have been off, but we dropped” was the verdict of their number 4 who like the rest of the Whitchurch team would probably have rather been elsewhere. This was confirmed soon after when the number 4 received an injury. Being treated by the physio on the sidelines he remarked “I could have been at a piss up, but instead I’m here playing centre back.”
The physio did enough to get him back onto the pitch, but the pain didn’t end there. Two more goals came; the first when money’s number 7, Lewis Fennemore, played a lovely dink out to the right of the Whitchurch area. Despite taking a deflection the ensuing cross still found a Money’s player to make it 5-0. A sixth was then added when through on goal Marley Ridge produced a neat shuffle to deceive the ‘keeper and finished in an empty net.
One notable feature of Moneyfields Avenue is its location right next to the main railway line to Portsmouth Harbour. This means that Money’s tend to lose a few balls. As a Money’s header sailed over the net erected to catch any over-ambitious shots, lands smack-bang on the tracks a Whitchurch player asked “what happens if we run out of balls” before jokingly adding “maybe it’s forfeited 0-0.” Whitchurch have no such luck, another ball is found and it finishes 6-0 to Moneyfields.